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Extreme Coupon Decoding/Fraud?

 
Anonymous Coward
User ID: 1018594
United States
04/12/2011 10:48 AM
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Extreme Coupon Decoding/Fraud?
[link to nyhousewives.blogspot.com]

I guess it really is true that you can learn something new everyday.
There's a new reality show on TLC called, "Extreme Coupon"- (or something like that.)
Its about those people who go the grocery store with coupons instead-of money and ring-up cart-loads of crap for next to nothing.
One of the "stars" of this show, is well-known in the couponing community as a scammer who practices what is called, "un-ethical" couponing. When coupon-lovers saw this woman on television, they went-OFF and then did some fancy-schmancy freeze-frame investigative type investigation.
If you follow my link above, you can see how the, (alledged), scam is done. What they do is take advantage of a computer barcode glitch and use coupons intended for a specific product, on any other product as long as it is produced by the same manufacturer.
For example, a ten-dollar coupon for Crest White-Strips, could be used on a travel-sized tube of toothpaste, resulting in a $9.00 credit.
I really don't know myself if this is ethical or not, since apparently cash-registers do accept these coupons in many cases, but if the face of the coupon says that you need to buy such & such an item to be eligible-I would think that would be it?
Following the links in this story led me into loads of interesting comments and info. about coupon-fraud.
The woman in question is being chastiested pretty soundly online and she has had to take-down her Facebook & other items for damage-control more than once.
TLC has made a half-hearted response, ("we're looking into it"). TLC received a nice surprize in the cable ratings for this new show, so I think they are taking this pretty seriously.
Anonymous Coward (OP)
User ID: 1018594
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04/12/2011 10:55 AM
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Re: Extreme Coupon Decoding/Fraud?
so sorry about the spelling errors. having technical.
Anonymous Coward (OP)
User ID: 1018594
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04/12/2011 10:56 AM
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Re: Extreme Coupon Decoding/Fraud?
so sorry about the spelling errors. having technical.
Anonymous Coward
User ID: 1338933
United States
04/12/2011 11:01 AM
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Re: Extreme Coupon Decoding/Fraud?
5a I have done that....
Dr. Anomaly

User ID: 956215
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04/12/2011 11:12 AM
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Re: Extreme Coupon Decoding/Fraud?
I am a major couponer; it's not unusual for me to pay $20 for over $200 worth of items, and I can tell you a couple of things:

1) Yes, what that woman is doing (if she's doing what is described) is in fact unethical, as you're supposed to use the coupon for the item(s) and size(s) described. Whether or not it's fraud (in the legal sense) I'm not sure, though I do know that counterfeiting coupons can and has been prosecuted as fraud and as counterfeiting as, and I quote, "coupons are a form of payment" (i.e. not legal tender, but close).

2) Most cash registers, even here in the podunk Midwest, will stop and call for a cashier's attention if the value of the coupon exceeds the normal price of an item. In the example of a "$9.00 credit" by using a $10.00 coupon on a $1.00 item, every register I'm familiar with (both self-checkout and the regular sort) will stop and call for "help". If she's found a place with registers that don't, I'd be very surprised.

3) It is perfectly possible, legal, and ethical to end up with a coupon that does exceed the price of the item; for example, a coupon for $1.00 off any Coke product or item, and new 8 oz. "trial size" bottles of a new flavor are marketed with a regular retail price of, say, $0.69. Since the coupon says "any Coke product" it's just fine to use it on the $0.69 item, though the register should call the checker's attention to the fact the coupon has a higher face value than the cost of the item.

(For the record, what the checker is SUPPOSED to do in that case is manually override the coupon, give you a $0.69 discount, and then write on the coupon front that it was redeemed for $0.69, not for face value, so the store will only get reimbursed the $0.69 and not the full face value, but most don't go to the trouble.)
Three Bribes for the Democrats sneaky and sly,
Seven for the Bankers in their halls of gold,
Nine for Labor Unions sucking us dry,
One for the Liar Chief leaving us cold
In Washington D.C. where politicians lie.

One Bill to rule them all, One Bill to find them,
One Bill to bring them all and in the debt-ness bind them
In Washington D.C. where politicians lie.
Anonymous Coward (OP)
User ID: 1018594
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04/12/2011 11:32 AM
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Re: Extreme Coupon Decoding/Fraud?
In her video Dr. A-wht she was doing was telling the cashier to, "K-1", (a Target register code).
I doubt if I tried this the cashier would do what I said!
And I wouldn't want to risk someone's job.
I had a Rite-Aid cashier give me heck over a coupon, and I didn't even ask her to do anything! She told me that they had a policy not to accept "FREE"-anything coupons, and I told her that I would accept the policy, but I was curious about it since my coupon had a hologram on it and I knew where I got it.

I think the extreme coupon community is mad because either they can't get away with the scam, or because they get treated like scammers when they are not.
Anonymous Coward (OP)
User ID: 1018594
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04/12/2011 11:33 AM
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Re: Extreme Coupon Decoding/Fraud?
Off-topic, but if I were registered could I go back and edit posts or does that have to be a paid membership?
Dr. Anomaly

User ID: 956215
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04/12/2011 11:48 AM
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Re: Extreme Coupon Decoding/Fraud?
I think the extreme coupon community is mad because either they can't get away with the scam, or because they get treated like scammers when they are not.
 Quoting: Anonymous Coward 1018594


I'm at work, and while I could watch the video, I wouldn't be able to listen to it, so I'll have to wait for that until I get home. Thanks for the synopsis.

In regards to what I quoted above, most extreme couponers are upset because it really ruins the experience for a lot of us; you wouldn't believe some of the stuff we get run through just for using perfectly legitimate coupons exactly as the coupons specify. (It's possible to end up with a negative balance due to in-store special discounts, but I try really hard not to do that; they won't give you actual cash back and the registers tend to go into a tizzy. One time I accidentally did end with a negative balance at a self check and it was a real headache getting it straightened out because at that point the register wouldn't let me go back and add another item [like a cold drink])

In regards to your Rite Aid story, every major chain I know of has their coupon policy posted on their website; I'm in the habit of having a store's coupon policy printed out and in my coupon binder when I shop, though that doesn't always help; sometimes because the store simply will not honor it (and the policies do tend to say that it's up to an individual store and/or manager if they do or don't) or, more frequently, because the store employees are idiots.

If it's that they won't honor it because they don't want to, I just have them cancel the entire order (which is usually pretty large, and means a lot of restocking trouble for them) and go shop somewhere else. I also make sure to let the shift manager know that, and why. I can't count the number of times they suddenly decide to do it, "just this once."

(Many cashiers act like you're taking money out of their personal pocket by using coupons, which mystifies me; the store or company gets reimbursed for the value of the coupon, plus a small handling charge as well, so it's not like the store is losing money on the sale. Ah, well. No cure for stupidity, I suppose.)

Wal-Mart is usually one of the worst offenders in regards to this. After two headaches at one of the local Wal-Marts I made it a point to find out the name and number of the local DISTRICT manager. The next time I had a major headache at that Wal-Mart, with the shift manager not only being obstinate but also accusing me aloud of coupon fraud because said manager didn't know the difference between a "purchase" and a "transaction", I called the district manager while standing at the register. I also asked the shift manager for his name but the manager turned his name badge around and refused to tell me, and walked off. All of this, in addition to the original issue, as well as the past headaches at that store, got passed along to the district manager right then and there. He apologized, said there were evidently some employees who needed some refresher training, and that he'd see to it. And that he'd find out who the shift manager was easily, seeing as how he had the date and time of my call. He then asked to speak to the checker, and I handed over my phone. A minute later she hung up, handed the phone back to me, and finished ringing me up.

I didn't go back to that store for several weeks, but when I did, I've not had ANY trouble about ANY coupon since then.
Three Bribes for the Democrats sneaky and sly,
Seven for the Bankers in their halls of gold,
Nine for Labor Unions sucking us dry,
One for the Liar Chief leaving us cold
In Washington D.C. where politicians lie.

One Bill to rule them all, One Bill to find them,
One Bill to bring them all and in the debt-ness bind them
In Washington D.C. where politicians lie.
Dr. Anomaly

User ID: 956215
United States
04/12/2011 11:49 AM
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Re: Extreme Coupon Decoding/Fraud?
Off-topic, but if I were registered could I go back and edit posts or does that have to be a paid membership?
 Quoting: Anonymous Coward 1018594


Just being registered (and signed in) will let you edit your posts.
Three Bribes for the Democrats sneaky and sly,
Seven for the Bankers in their halls of gold,
Nine for Labor Unions sucking us dry,
One for the Liar Chief leaving us cold
In Washington D.C. where politicians lie.

One Bill to rule them all, One Bill to find them,
One Bill to bring them all and in the debt-ness bind them
In Washington D.C. where politicians lie.
Anonymous Coward (OP)
User ID: 1018594
United States
04/12/2011 12:11 PM
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Re: Extreme Coupon Decoding/Fraud?
Thank-you, and I absolutely HATE when someone will not identify themselves!
Comcast has been using some new offshore customer service reps lately and I have run-into some horrible service.
The minute they refuse to ID themselves is when I really get mad.
Physically turning an ID-around in front of your face is incredibly rude.
I didn't appreciate being treated like I was trying to do something shady by redeeming a valid coupon, but I fully respect anyone's right to refuse it.
I told her that I would just take it to another store and that caused her to loudly complain about COUPON FRAUD!
I probably could have got that woman fired for treating customers like that, but she wasn't there for very long.
The stupid thing was that I was using my club-savings tag, which shows how much I spend, a valuable customer, but they have been frauded with those as well.
I probably should have asked her what made her think that I would go to all of that trouble for a three-dollar bottle of aspirin!
Anonymous Coward (OP)
User ID: 1018594
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04/12/2011 12:16 PM
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Re: Extreme Coupon Decoding/Fraud?
I hope that you get a chance to see the you-tube vids Dr. A. She has been taking them down and they keep putting them back up.
It is pretty apparent that they caught her red-handed, but I would really like to hear what the law says about this.
If the register allows her to walk out of the store with the stuff, technically, she may be OK.
But TLC has a problem because most people would not use a coupon for one product on something else, so the whole idea that anyone can save big money like that is false.
-That's the problem that I have, and technically the woman is not advocating that other people do that but the videos show that that is what she did.
Anonymous Coward (OP)
User ID: 1018594
United States
04/12/2011 12:20 PM
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Re: Extreme Coupon Decoding/Fraud?
Because there is some social-engineering involved, this idea is a little more complicated than shop-lifting.-And harder to prosecute if there are any charges that can be made.
Some people consider it as-damaging ultimately to the consumer as shoplifting and out-right theft, because they claim that the other consumers will pay.
Anonymous Coward
User ID: 1055544
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04/12/2011 12:25 PM
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Re: Extreme Coupon Decoding/Fraud?
Ethical Schmethical. I live in a podunk little town and I believe I've just become an avid couponer!

BTW, Kroger has double coupons EVERY DAY!
Dr. Anomaly

User ID: 956215
United States
04/12/2011 03:51 PM
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Re: Extreme Coupon Decoding/Fraud?
I hope that you get a chance to see the you-tube vids Dr. A. She has been taking them down and they keep putting them back up.
It is pretty apparent that they caught her red-handed, but I would really like to hear what the law says about this.
If the register allows her to walk out of the store with the stuff, technically, she may be OK.
But TLC has a problem because most people would not use a coupon for one product on something else, so the whole idea that anyone can save big money like that is false.
-That's the problem that I have, and technically the woman is not advocating that other people do that but the videos show that that is what she did.
 Quoting: Anonymous Coward 1018594


Weeeeeellll... As I noted, I typically save approx. 90% on the total at the grocery store (Gerbes / Kroger) and somewhat less than that at Wal-Mart, but still substantial.

As another poster noted, Gerbes (at least in our areas) doubles coupons every day; mine "doubles" up to a dollar... meaning that when they "double" a coupon, the max value will be $1.00 after it's "doubled". Example: 45c doubles to 90c, 50c doubles to $1, 75c "doubles" to $1, 55c "doubles" to $1, etc. Coupons with a face value of $1 or over are just face value.

In many cases, taking into account in-store sales & discounts as well as the coupon "doubling" things end up cheaper at Gerbes than at Wal-Mart. Other local stores (Hy-Vee, for example) don't get as much business from me as they might because they don't double coupons and thus aren't really as good a bargain, though that can differ.

Example: after work today I'm going by my local Hy-Vee for one specific item: Jolly Time popcorn. It's normally around $2.50 for a box of 3 bags, but Hy-Vee's current sale has it for $1 a box, and I have 50c off 1 box coupons that expire on the 15th, making it just 50c a box, but it gets better: Jolly Time's current boxes have a cut-out certificate for a free bowling and there happens to be a local bowling alley on the list on their website; the bowling certs don't expire until the end of August. In addition, Jolly Time is having a promotion where for every 3 UPCs off the boxes you send them, they send you a reusable shopping bag. So tonight at Hy-Vee for $10 + sales tax, I'll get:

20 boxes (60 bags) of popcorn
20 free games of bowling
7 free reusable shopping bags (that's 21 UPCs but I have one at home already)

That's not 90% directly off the grocery tag, but it's more than 90% when you consider the free entertainment (bowling) and shopping bags.
Three Bribes for the Democrats sneaky and sly,
Seven for the Bankers in their halls of gold,
Nine for Labor Unions sucking us dry,
One for the Liar Chief leaving us cold
In Washington D.C. where politicians lie.

One Bill to rule them all, One Bill to find them,
One Bill to bring them all and in the debt-ness bind them
In Washington D.C. where politicians lie.
Dr. Anomaly

User ID: 956215
United States
04/12/2011 04:22 PM
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Re: Extreme Coupon Decoding/Fraud?
One other things I should note: the 90% off I quote is off the retail price of the items I take out of the store, though quite a few times the items I take out are ones I won't or can't use myself.

Example: locally the 4 oz. pouch of Idahoian instant potatoes are regularly $1 each; Martha White baking mixes are about $1.10 a pouch. I'm a diabetic, and really can't each much in the way of potatoes because of their high glycemic index, and pre-packaged baking mixes usually have a LOT of sugar in them, at least by the guidelines I have to follow.

Because of coupons, I routinely get the potatoes for $0.00 a pouch and the baking mixes for $0.10 a pouch. Why do I take the time to "buy" those items if I can't use them? Well, both my mother and sister are widowed; my mother is in her 70s and my sister is disabled. Both are on fixed incomes. As you might guess, I pass a LOT of food items on their way which makes it QUITE worth my while to pick up those items. What they can't use, I donate to my church (many members lost their jobs when local plants scaled back or shut down) or my local food bank. All I'm 'spending', really, is my time and I feel I'm doing a lot of good in addition to the low prices I pay for the things I do myself use.

One of the things I end up spending "actual" money on is fresh produce, but I'll getting ready to start an indoor in-apartment container garden next week to help with that, and am looking into a small aquaponics set-up to help with my protein requirements (that diabetes again, you know).

I also make my own 4-ingredient no-knead fresh bread for literally pennies a loaf. Using whole wheat flour so it doesn't cause me blood sugar problems gives me daily fresh bread that tastes better than any store-bought bread, and it's literally no hassle: mix 4 ingredients, let sit and rise for 20 hours, put in glass bowl and bake. I've never seen an easier, less-hassle bread recipe.
Three Bribes for the Democrats sneaky and sly,
Seven for the Bankers in their halls of gold,
Nine for Labor Unions sucking us dry,
One for the Liar Chief leaving us cold
In Washington D.C. where politicians lie.

One Bill to rule them all, One Bill to find them,
One Bill to bring them all and in the debt-ness bind them
In Washington D.C. where politicians lie.
Anonymous Coward (OP)
User ID: 1018594
United States
04/17/2011 02:15 PM
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Re: Extreme Coupon Decoding/Fraud?
UPDATE

So-I'm still investigating this. It turns out that there is a coupon trick where people find BOGO, (Buy one get one), deals to get TWO FREE! items!
And its (supposedly), NOT "illegal", or "unethical".
What they do is take a store coupon, plus a manufacturer's coupon and they cancel each-other out.
They also advise BUYING THREE in a BOGO-deal. How does buying three confuse the process/cash-register??

I've also learned MORE about the codes. (the, "old ones which are mostly still being used). You know how sometimes you have to buy SIX of something to get a coupon deal? The barcode can only "count"-to FOUR. So anytime you see a coupon that says to buy more than 4, (old style), you only have to buy 4. And in some cases less.

I'm starting to lean towards the idea that this code glitch, and exploits of it, are the store's/manufacturer's problem.
If the code scans differently than what the offer says in writing--who's fault is that? (rhetorical ?-)
spiritnut

User ID: 1345657
United States
05/01/2011 04:48 PM

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Re: Extreme Coupon Decoding/Fraud?
This is the link to the videos...

[link to tlc.discovery.com]

these people save an amazing amount of $
Say_It_Loud

User ID: 1365175
United States
05/01/2011 04:58 PM
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Re: Extreme Coupon Decoding/Fraud?
I watched a couple of the shows and find what the are doing to be very impracticle. How many papers would you have to buy or printer ink to get that kind of savings.

On the first show I watched, she bouught 1200 dollars worth of stuff for like 9 dollars but the trick is to buy an entire shelf of the item, all of it, use the store coupon, the manufacturers coupon and catch sales, they end up making money to take it out of the stores.

I hate what they are doing, first of all, it is a breach of the spirit of the coupon. Second, it wipes out the product so that no one else can get a couple at the sale price, third, it will make the manufactures stop doing coupons since they will not benefit from one customer buying up the promotions, keeping others from have a chance to try it.

There are always people who will ruin it for everyone else by finding loopholes. Saving is one thing, but this is more like stealing. The stores should put limits on all purchases on sales to end this practice.
Truth Is God's Daughter - Spanish Proverb.

"Silence Is Treason" Geert Wilders
LocalStoreManager
User ID: 1388391
United States
05/18/2011 02:57 AM
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Re: Extreme Coupon Decoding/Fraud?
Be sure to check your state and in few cases county laws regarding coupons (commonly written in with sale tax laws). I live in WV and the coupon laws are more strict then other states ex: coupons cannot exceed item value(cost), Only one coupon per item (a bogo coupon counts as a coupon used for both items and you cannot use an e-coupon and paper coupon on the same item). You also have to pay tax on coupons in our state. WV makes sure to get every penny they can because food tax raye is currently at .03 per every dollar but the coupon tax rate is currently set at .05 per dollar. Also be sure to check with the store you plan to shop at not only to get them to order the amount you need so you clean out the whole supply, but also get a copy of that particular store's coupon policy because they can and more often then not are different then the general one posted online. Most managers do hold the power to add store policies. For example our store has a policy that says you may only use 2 like coupons per store card, you can use only 50 coupons per transaction, coupons cannot exceed $150 per transaction, and we only allow Internet coupons up to $1.00 value.

So please be sure to take a few extra minutes to check the laws and policies with your local store as well as pre- order what you plan to get not only to ensure they have the amount you need but also they can set it aside in a separate cart to make your shopping easier. One of my favorite customers is an avid couponer and in most cases she can just walk in and wait at the service desk and her order is already in buggies in the back so she just walks in and only has to wait for scanning and not have to walk the entire store counting and sorting and then have to wait on scanning out.
Loluu
User ID: 1791132
09/23/2011 01:33 PM
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Re: Extreme Coupon Decoding/Fraud?
I am going to share this thread with a lot of my coupon crazed friend who went simply Loco after the TLC show on how to become an extreme couponer.

Thanks
[link to extremecouponings.blogspot.com]

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